Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1-4 and second leading cause for children 5-14. Most of these accidents occur in swimming pools. One study showed 88% of children were being directly supervised by an adult at the time of the drowning. Drowning is fast and can be silent. That is why it is so important to have your eyes on the children constantly in the water.
During swim time, designate a responsible adult to be a "Water-Watcher". A common misconception is when more adults are present, everyone is watching the children in the water. But the reality is, that maybe no one is watching. Designate a responsible adult to avoid all other distractions and only watch the water. Take turns, 15-minute shifts, to avoid losing focus.
Avoid filling your pool with inflatables and toys. These objects could hide a child who is struggling to stay above water.
Do not rely on flotation devices. Children have drowned when parents remove these devices so their child can have a snack or warm up with a towel, only for the child to return to the pool without the device on, unnoticed. These devices can give the child, and the parent, a false sense of security at the pool. Never let down your guard.
Inflatable water wings and innertubes can be especially dangerous. They could lose air or slide off the child. Always use extreme caution if using these for your child.
Puddle jumpers should not be used for routine recreational swimming in a pool. These devices can create poor posture while swimming in the water by keeping the child in a vertical position that is unobtainable without the device. If a child who regularly wears this device were to make it in the water without it, they may attempt to stay in a vertical position, unable to breath, and drown. For more information about puddle jumpers, read here.
It is best to get in the pool and swim with your child. Use "touch supervision". Stay within arms reach of a non-swimmer to ensure they are safe in the pool. This also helps the child to develop a healthy understanding that a parent needs to be in the pool with them in order for them to swim.
Talk to your children about the pool. Make sure they know where the shallow and deep ends of the pool are. Make sure they know where the stairs and ladder are to exit the pool. Show them where the drains are and the importance of avoiding them.
Discourage children from rough play in pools and discourage breath holding games. Educate children on the pools "safety rules".
Learning how to swim is a life saving skill that everyone should learn. Minorities may be at a higher risk of drowning accidents. For instance, one study found, drowning in a swimming pool was almost six times more likely among black children and adolescents aged 5–18 years than among their white peers. This may be due to the child's inability to swim. Another study found that 64% of Black/African-American children cannot swim, as opposed to 40% of white children in the same age group.
Learn CPR. It is important for the responsible adult watching the children in the pool to know CPR with rescue breaths. Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation, prior to EMS arrival, has shown to improve the odds of survival after drowning.
We want you and your family to enjoy the pool together. Please take these steps to ensure they enjoy it safely.